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Human Brain Connectivity Mapping


The unique connectivity pattern of a brain region determines the type of information available to it, and hence influences its function. Defining these patterns enhances our knowledge of human brain architecture and function. Non-invasive in vivo definition of brain connectivity patterns complements functional imaging and provides new understanding of disorders associated with developmental or regional alterations of brain connectivity. There are extensions to this approach to clinically important issues. As an example, brain connectivity problems are important in developmental and acquired brain disorders.

Researchers working within the University of Oxford Clinical Neurology Department have developed a technique that is able to provide non-invasive identification of boundaries between major nuclei in a patient undergoing surgery, thereby improving both targeting accuracy and outcomes. The invention relates to mapping the connectivity of the brain’s nervous system in a human, and uses imaging data derived from magnetic resonance imaging. New computer methods derive the anatomical connectivity patterns, and analyse the structure of the nervous system.

Testing the hypothesis that changes in fronto-thalamic circuitry i.e. thalamic dysfunction is a factor in schizophrenia becomes a reality using this methodology. Impairments in cortico-cortical connectivity are found in individuals with learning disabilities. The new method allows a quantitative approach to the differences so that actual variations in learning abilities and performance can be determined. At present localisation in stereotactic neurosurgery or deep brain stimulation of specific thalamic nuclei in movement disorders remains difficult. This approach to grey matter segmentation has the potential to improve targeting accuracy and outcomes.

The technology is the subject of a patent application and Isis Innovation Ltd would welcome the opportunity to discuss the commercial applications with interested companies.

Kim Bruty | alfa
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